By Eric Cooney, Pure Edge (Sponsored)
Pure Edge has had the privilege of bringing educator self care to more than 35,000 people around the country. We believe that equipping educators and learners with opportunities for self care, as well as prioritizing social and emotional competencies, supports their ability to create school and workplace cultures that are welcoming and fosters a greater sense of belonging.
Start with the Heart
When we start with the heart, we care for ourselves and others. We create spaces rooted in love and belonging, and we empower ourselves and each other to change the culture around us. Educators, in turn, have used our simple “Breathe, Move, Rest” strategies in their daily lives to manage stress. Many have also implemented these tools in their classrooms, helping learners regulate a unregulated state and manage challenging emotions.
Self Care Is Primary to Caring for Others
More than 90 percent of the educators we have served state that they face high levels of stress. They juggle many demands on a daily basis, and with new regulations, along with changes in culture and climate, taking care of oneself has not been a high priority. But we know that if we aren’t caring for ourselves, it becomes very difficult to care for others effectively. High educator stress can lead to high learner stress, and highly stressed environments do not create the conditions for academic success or social adjustment. Highly stressed educators can experience workplace burnout, leading to increased teacher and administrator turnover, which creates uncertainty and destabilization in schools and communities. All educators deserve the tools to manage stress, and entire communities can benefit when we make educator self care a priority.
Self Care Should Be Accessible
For some, the term “self care” might conjure images of spa days and bubble baths, but caring for ourselves does not have be costly, time-consuming, or rare. Educators are busy, dedicated professionals from varied backgrounds who deserve simple strategies that can be used in any place, at any time. Something as simple as a mindful minute— taking one minute to close the eyes and focus on the breath, the heart, and bring awareness to overall feelings — can set the tone for a better day or help the educator leave the workday’s stress at the door.
Breathe, Move, Rest
Three simple strategies—“Breathe, Move, Rest” —are the foundation of our professional development, as well as curriculum. Taking deep, even breaths in through the nose and back out through the nose activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the brain and body. Mindful movement and guided rest build upon the breathing. Practicing simple nasal breathing exercises makes the movement and rest easier and more effective. For educators who have only a minute or two in the day to dedicate to self-care, we recommend using that time for a nasal breathing exercise or a mindful minute. Many educators choose to offer these strategies to their learners as well, helping them start and end the day on a positive note, transition between classes or subjects, and relax and focus before tests or other potentially stressful activities.
PEI’s full suite of free online resources: curriculum, video library of Brain Breaks, neuroscience-based mini-unit, and resources are available to all educators at www.pureedgeinc.org.
PEI believes that all educators and learners deserve to be taught strategies that help combat stress and support the development of social, emotional, and academic learning competencies with an open heart and mind. We are a private operating foundation that provides direct service to school districts and nonprofit organizations through professional development and thought partnership. PEI also provides grants to national organizations that advance the work of whole child development and social, emotional and academic development. We are so grateful for the opportunity to do this work in service of educators and learners around the country.
About the author
Erin Cooney is Director of Curriculum & Instruction at Pure Edge, Inc. Erin travels around the country teaching simple self-care skills like breathing, mindful movement, and guided rest to learners and educators because she believes that taking care of ourselves is a powerful way to be the change we want to see in the world. She earned a M.Ed. in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, and a B.A. in English from Gordon College. She has studied yoga at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India and studied mindfulness for over a decade.